February 14, 2011

My Parkinson's Week: A Wake-up Call to warn me to restore more balance to my life.

I've lived my life by Mae West's mantra:  Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!. I was a two-pack-a-day cigarette smoker. (Tobacco-free for 45 years fortunately.) My alcoholism got me thrown out of law school and 5 or 6 times into jails. (Alcohol-free for 33 years even more fortunately.) But I continue to periodically disrupt my life and well-being with my obsessive/compulsive and addictive tendencies.

I loved an e-mail that my son sent recently to my daughter (and copied me), saying:
Think how dull the world would be without people who are bipolar, obsessive/compulsive, and ADD.  Isn't it nice that Dad is all three!
I got a warning this week that I've done it again by obsessing about getting this blog up and running and by letting work on the computer consume much of my day. Last Monday, after a good night's sleep, I woke up feeling unusually tired and lethargic. I thought at the time that this might be a sign that I'd been overdoing things and needed to remember that I was 81 years old and my energy supply has limits..  I started upping my meditation time and my do-nothing time.  But Friday I got the real warning. I'd had a couple of breakthroughs on my efforts to promote the blog that got me very excited about the prospects for developing them further.  So after breakfast I headed for the computer but then just sat there feeling extremely tired.  After an hour or so of this, I checked my blood pressure and it was up near 180. I decided to go into my bedroom and lie down and I nearly passed out.  I laid in bed for an hour or so as waves of faintness came and went. I finally decided to call my daughter and 911. Both responded quickly and well.

I was carted off to the hospital emergency room where I had several blood tests, a brain scan, a chest x-ray, and continual monitoring of the blood pressure which went up to near 200 but then gradually began coming down.  When all the test results came in, the doctor said they all showed I was normal.  (My daughter correctly disputed that.)  So I was discharged and went home. Now, two days later, the erratic blood pressure spikes are subsiding and I'm feeling much better.

There's no clear evidence as to what's causing this. But my guess is that it's related to my getting overly excited and involved in the blog and spending far too much time on the computer. So I'm, once again, calling up the bumper-sticker-like slogans that helped me deal with my alcoholism -- Easy does it.  One day at a time. And, my favorite, "I can't think my way into a new way of acting but I can act my way into a new way of thinking."

I've laid down a rule for myself -- after an hour on the computer, I have to take a break and do something else for at least a couple of hours.   Fortunately, our unusually cold winter in D.C. is releasing its grip and the temperature predictions for the coming  week are are for the 50's and I can get back to the outdoor walks that have always been good for me.

At least this time my obsession has been about something positive. But it's yet another reminder that a positive can turn into a negative when it's carried to excess.

It could well be that something else caused the spike in blood pressure and I'm researching a couple of other options. But in any event I need to get more balance back into my life.

February 8, 2011

Parkisons's and stress headaches, Gluthione infusions

Because of some problem with Yahoo, I'm able to follow the message in my favorite Yahoo group on Parkinson's -- PLWP2 (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/plwp2/ -- but I'm not able to post replies. Frustrating since I've done some research in answer to questions raised and haven't been able to get them posted.  So I'm going to put the responses I've come up with here. One of the members of my PD support group who joined PLWP2 at my suggestion will then see if he can post a link back here.  Complicated.  But perhaps other viewers of this blog might find some of the responses of interest. Here's what I've found out about several questions raised recently:

Parkinson's and stess headaches.

The person who raised this has a wife with PD who suffers from stress headaches and he wonders if it's PD-related.

Here's a response to the same question from netdoctor.uk (http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/whoisnd.htm. This is a group of over 250 doctors in the UK who try to provide answers to medical questions:

I don't think headaches are specifically a problem with Parkinson's.
But the stiffness and muscular control of the neck could lead to a build up of what could be a stress headache.
I would suggest you try an alternative approach for this such as acupuncture or homeopathy.
Either of these approaches could be available locally on the NHS. Ask you doctor.
I think you should consider these options because they are safe and natural approaches and can be of benefit in a wide range of choices.
For information and suggestions on stress or tension headaches generally, there's no more reliable place to go than the Mayo Clinic. Seehttp://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tension-headache/DS00304

Gluthione infusions

Another PLWP2 member was thinking of trying gluthione infusion and asked about that.

There’s a lot on this on the web.  Here are some of the better links:
1.     A self-promoting description from the Hoffman Center that offers a treatment program -- http://www.drhoffman.com/page.cfm/196
2.     A before-after video from Dr. Perlmutter of the Hoffman Center - http://www.glutathioneexperts.com/benefits-glutathione.html
3.     A Neurotalk group (like ours) for exchange of information on this: -- http://neurotalk.psychcentral.com/thread46027.html
4.     A WebMD report on glutathione that doesn’t find anything terribly wrong with it -- http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-717-GLUTATHIONE.aspx?activeIngredientId=717&activeIngredientName=GLUTATHIONE
5.     A report on a clinical trial that found only “mild symptomatic relief” from glutathione infusion   But this study only involved 20 people and concludes, as we hear all too often, “this remains to be evaluated in a larger study.” -- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19230029?itool=3DEntrezSystem2.PEntrez.=

February 1, 2011

Last week's Parkinson's news on the web

charter maldriverna

With last week's power outage (see "My PD Week" posting below), I haven't had a chance to analyze the web reports I've collected.  But here are two very good video  links that surfaced last week:

Back next week with more, assuming no further power outages. :

This Week's Research Report: Parkinson's and Dementia - Part 1

A week or more ago, Bert posted a reply comment asking for information about the link between Parkinson's Disease and dementia. I had just started researching this last week when the power went out. (See the "My PD Week" posting below.)

Dementia is a major concern for most of us with PD (and for most who are aging regardless of whether they have PD). With last week's power outage, I wasn't able to give this the full research effort it deserves. So I'll have more to report on this next week.

But for now, here's what my preliminary research shows on the issue of the prevalence of dementia among those diagnosed with PD:

  •  Most estimates are that  perhaps as many as  50% of those diagnosed with PD show some signs of cognitive impairment.
  • And as many as 20 to 40% may have more severe impairment or dementia.
This seems discouraging.  But  I've seen other studies that suggest these figures are either inflated or misinterpreted as suggesting a cause-effect (i.e that. Parkinson's causes these results)  when actually most of this is age-related, not Parkinson's-related.

But I want to take a closer look at this.  And I also want to research the important topic of actions we can take to prevent or delay the onset of dementia, regardless of whether it's due to aging or Parkinson's.

Stay tuned.. Back next week.

    My Parkinson's Week: A reminder on the importance of exercise and weight control!

    Last Wednesday night, I was settling down to watch the PBS News Hour at 7 p.m. when there was a loud pop followed by darkness. Thanks to a heavy snow fall, a power line across the street went down knocking out power to the dozen or so houses on our cul-de-sac, not to return until 5 p.m. Saturday.

    My housemate and I toughed it out in our igloo for the first two days, building many fires in the fireplace and spending lots of time at the movies and restaurants and in the American University library's computer room. But the house temperature sank below 50 on Friday morning and when I went to Starbucks for my morning coffee a neighbor said she'd been told by Pepco (DC's utility company) not to expect any relief before 11:30 p.m Saturday. That did it. I checked into a downtown Embassy Suites and my housemate went to stay with friends.

    Saturday turned out to be a great day. Taking advantage of being downtown and the plethora of free attractions that DC has more of than any city I know, I spent the day re-exploring the Capitol Hill section of DC, taking the subway to the recently restored Eastern Market, walking from there to the Library of Congress where I spent more quality time than I ever had before, and then took the new tunnel from the LoC to the new visitors' center at the Capitol where I took the tour for the first time in my 55 years in DC!

    Splendid as the day was it reminded me of things I'd been neglecting. With my usual obsessive/compulsive tendencies, I've been so absorbed in launching this blog that, once again, I'd let my life get out of balance. Spending a day with lots of walking, much of it outdoors and trying something new and different was euphoric. But I was more short-winded on climbing stairs and walking up hills compared to last fall. My gardening and other exercise last year had my weight down and my stamina up. But a winter with too little exercise and too much time sitting at the computer had taken its toll. I'd lost the feel-good fitness I'd had in the fall AND I had gained over 5 pounds.

    That's the lesson learned. Now will I do something about it?